(Behind the scenes of the book that goes behind the scenes)
Ever wondered what it’s like to work somewhere else? I have. Partly because I’m just plain nosey. Partly because I love going to places and seeing what makes creative environments tick. Which is partly why I decided to write “I Wish I Worked There”.
During the two years I spent researching my book I went behind closed doors of some of the most innovative businesses in the world. I visited companies from all types of industries ranging from finance to law, technology to entertainment, consumer goods to engineering & manufacturing. I didn’t do desk research. I got up and out and knocked on doors.
A few principles drove my research:
Corporates, not creative agencies
It’s almost expected that creative agencies have creative environments. I wanted to see how global businesses – complete with all the constraints, processes and issues that come with large-scale organisations – were able to prioritise the physical environment as a strategic tool.
Rather than collecting perfect “after shots” from design portfolios, I wanted to see how environments operate long after the designers and architects have left. What works, what doesn’t? How do people really use the spaces? I wanted to see these places warts and all, rather than in that polished, untouched state just after move-in day. Some places I visited were brand new, some were very much lived in. Most of the clever things I saw were conceived and/or built by people from within businesses themselves.
A common thread throughout every company I featured was that they were clear on three things:
1) Who they are
2) What makes them different (their culture, internal brand, how they do what they do)
3) What their people need to do their job well.
I found that despite the businesses, cultures and brands being vastly different, commonalities exist in the types of spaces that they provide to support and reinforce the right activities and behaviours for innovation.